By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
The members of Epperley on Sunday are returning from the
South by Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas.
They've been there before — once playing a packed official
showcase, once playing to the sound man at a "pirate" gig --
but this year's self-promotion rings of self-confidence and
No longer does this Tulsa rock band fit the mold of
green, mildly desperate newcomers. An acclaimed new album,
some miles on the odometer and a sense of professionalism
instilled by four years in the running have fermented the
Epperley sound into something finer, full-bodied and
"Like wine, right?" smirked Epperley guitarist Matt Nader
during a recent conversation. "Jeez, I hope we've grown by
now. We're playing some great shows, and I think we're all
excited about the record and what people will think of it."
He should be. Epperley's new album, "Sophomore Slump," is
likely to raise most of the brows furrowed by the
self-titled debut. Recorded and mixed in a whirlwind few
days in New York City, the disc is a wallop of fat guitars,
roaring production and some solid songs. That it's finally
on record store shelves is a bit of a relief, too — the
release was delayed for a year — but Nader said he thinks
the timing will be just right. "Somehow we haven't let
people forget our name, and I think some people are
actually waiting for this," he said.
The waiting has been the hardest part.
Better late than never
Exactly one year ago I caught up with Epperley to talk
about the new album, finished early in '97. When I asked
when the record would be released, all four guys — Nader,
singer David Terry, bassist David Bynum and drummer John
Truskett — laughed. The responses, though, showed they
weren't amused: "Maybe late May?" "This century?" "Hell's frozen
The band's record label, Los Angeles-based Triple X
Records, held onto the disc while working out a deal to
distribute it properly. Nader said the delay, while
frustrating, will be worth the wait. "The last record
(also on Triple X) was hard to find even here in Tulsa, but
a friend of mine saw copies in a Tower Records in Germany
and Indonesia, and I found it in Paris," Nader said. The new
deal should make "Sophomore Slump" readily available in most
music shops on this continent.
Last year's meeting took place during a rehearsal at
Nader's posh south Tulsa house. An upstairs bedroom was the
band's studio, littered with chunky sound equipment and
videodiscs of cult films. Truskett, the band's manic Neal
Cassidy, was sniffling and wheezing behind his kit; the
night before, his symptoms had landed him in the emergency
room. Before launching into the first song of the
afternoon, he beat on his chest, chanting to himself, "Who's
not sick? Who's not sick?"
"Hey, the drummer for Def Leppard only had one arm," Nader
said, attempting consolation. No dice.
"Yeah," Truskett said, "but he didn't have bronchitis."
As the sun faded, they plowed through several of the
songs they're still playing today — the martial beats of
"Static," the reinvented boredom lament "Jenks, America," a
great song that didn't make the new album, "Casio Man" --
randomly selecting them from a lengthy three-column list on
a bulletin board.
"Triple X wanted to put out an EP, but we thought that
would be a bad idea," Bynum said. "We've got so many songs,
though, and we haven't put out a record in so long."
Said Nader: "We're the most prolific band in the
Indeed, since the appearance of "Epperley" in 1996, Nader
and his mates have churned out scores of songs. Every few
months, I'd see them brandishing another 90-minute cassette
of new songs. In addition to producing their own Christmas
CD twice, Nader even formed a band on the side, Secret
Agent Teenager, to ease some of the songwriting pressure.
In the interim, the band also landed a publishing contract
with Windswept Pacific.
"The publishing deal is actually the best part," Bynum
said. "That gets our material in front of a lot of people
who otherwise probably wouldn't play one of our records on
sight. That has helped us to slowly, very slowly, get
Epperley spent the beginning of 1999 plying the West
Coast with this sweeter sound. After four years together,
this is the first serious touring the band has done. Nader
said the advantages of honing a live show far outweighed
the soul-deadening experience of driving for hours on end.
"We got to play a lot — a lot more than if we had stayed
here in Tulsa," he said. "It was a drag sometimes, pulling
eight- to 12-hour drives every day and knowing exactly what
records each person would listen to when it was his turn to
drive. But we had some really good shows, especially toward
the end of the tour."
Not only did a San Diego club, the Casbah ("I finally got
to rock the Casbah," Nader said), bring Epperley back for a
second show, but the band's final gig was an opening slot
for Imperial Teen, the latest band featuring Roddy Bottom
(Faith No More), at L.A.'s noted Troubadour club.
They plan to hit the road again next month, if for no
other reason than to see Tina Yothers again.
"Remember Tina Yothers, from 'Family Ties'? She's in a
band called The Jaded," Terry said. "It's awful. It's like
Cinemax after-dark kind of stuff. Really bad."
It's gonna happen
Meanwhile, Epperley now is concentrating on promoting
the new album through all the right channels. The reviews
are starting to come in, and most are positive. The band is
now listed in the online version of the All-Music Guide,
and both albums score three out of five stars.
"The first album got reviewed in all these punk
magazines," Bynum said. "That's bad."
"We got a bad review in one of those that said we sucked
because we didn't use distortion in every song," Nader
"Guitar World said, `This band makes Blind Melon look
like Pantera,' " Bynum recalled. "What else was there?"
"Remember the shortest one?" Terry asked his mates. "It was
just one sentence: 'Isn't Kurt Cobain dead?' "
Everyone laughs, and it's a healthy laughter. The
Epperley guys usually join detractors of their first
record. Most of it was recorded when Epperley still
operated under the names Bug and, briefly, Superfuzz, with
some extra tracks added from initial, hasty L.A. sessions.
"We don't even really like the first record," Nader said.
"We can't blame Triple X for not promoting it. It was
recorded without any idea that someone would say, `Hey, we
want to put this out.' " But that, Epperley likes to
remind itself, was a long time ago. "One day," Terry
said, "whether it's on Triple X and takes forever or whether
we're shoved into the limelight, it's going to happen for
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.